Presidential candidate Dr. Brenda Thames shares plan to create an inclusive culture at El Camino College

Presidential candidate for El Camino Community College, Brenda Thames’ plans to address equity gaps and create an inclusive culture on campus for all students to succeed.

The forum, held over an open video meeting on April 29, provided insight into Thames’ goals and priorities as a potential president through questions asked by PPL Inc. Vice President, Lisa Sugimoto.

The questions were submitted by the El Camino Community College (ECC) community and ranged from a variety of topics pertaining to the role of El Camino President.

Having attended a community college herself, Thames emphasized her focus on listening to students’ needs and working to provide better opportunities for students at El Camino College.

The Union compiled three questions answered by Thames during the forum.

Q. What would be your top two priorities for the first year as superintendent and president?

Thames: “To understand the organization. The first two would be to understand the organization and to build relationships. Because the work that we do in that first year sets the tone for everything that we will be able to do.

“As the new superintendent [and] president, I need to get to know you, your culture, your history, your context.

“I have always enjoyed being around students to build relationships, take a ride along with the police department, attend events, hopefully, we can get back to having events on campus, to attend events in the community, but to spend that first year listening, laying a firm foundation, partnering and joining you where you’re at with the things that are working well.”

Q: How will you identify, secure, nurture and grow the best industry partnerships to advance employment opportunities for our students?

Thames: “Get out in the community with our board members, meet our business and industry leaders, find out what it is that they need from us.

“To make sure that I am positioning them to be successful with as much support as I can provide through connections and relationships with business and industry.

“I think everything that we offer at the college should be to an employment opportunity for students that provides upward mobility.”

You’ve answered the first part of this question which was what do you intend to do during your first year as superintendent and president. What about within the next five years?

Thames: “Got to pass a budget, got to get audits done.

“We will have to continue to meet with the citizens bond oversight committee, with their director of facilities and the vice president of administrative services to make sure we stay on time and on task with those construction projects.

“Facilitate a way that communication is happening and also keep us operating efficiently and effectively.

“The next five years. I think it’s critical that we continue to look at creating economic mobility and continue to refine our Guide[d] Pathways work so that we are developing pathways.

“Continued work around equity, diversity and inclusion and continuing to allow that work to support not only a campus culture of inclusion but to eliminate achievement gaps.”